Power BI with Dynamics 365 Business Central (Video)

Power BI allows you to easily connect to, model, and visualize your data, creating personalized and secure reports for your organization. Learn how you can get maximum value from your technology and your data by using Power BI with the Microsoft technology you already trust by using all your data productively such as Office 365 and Dynamics 365.

Transcript below:

Melissa: Hi there, everyone. Thanks for joining us today. This is Melissa here. I’m a marketing specialist at Encore, and today we’ll be talking about Power BI with Dynamics 365 Business Central. And we’ve got Ziad and Pierre today. Hi there.

Ziad: Thanks, Melissa. Hi, everyone. My name is Ziad. Hope you’re doing well. Today, we’ve got some very interesting topics to talk about, one that I think would be very interesting for your business, as well as a good addition to, or integration to your existing solutions. Today, we’ll be talking about Power BI and all of the different components, or at least a high level of fundamental introduction to Power BI and how it can integrate seamlessly with Dynamics 365 Business Central, an ERP solution.

So for today, we’re gonna run through a quick introduction around how you can create or share, or some of the advantages of the Power BI dashboards in general, and use those really as building blocks to kind of show the fuller story of how it can be meaningful and add value to your business. And near the end of our presentation today, we’ll also have a demonstration to show you the concept of Power BI as well as how it’s integrated or a part of Dynamics Business Central as well.

To kick off though, I wanted to kind of set the tone for today and really kind of outline the value of what we’re about to discuss. So, you know, in the world that we live in, the unprecedented world that and the changes that have kind of occurred, we’ve seen that over the years there’s been, you know, a decrease in the average lifespan of a company that is on the S&P 500 list. And, you know, dozens of years ago, there used to be a lot of, you know, an average of 67 years, if you will, of companies that are there on that list. However, in the 2020s, and moving forward, we are seeing a continuous decline in how long and a company can actually stay on that list. And in fact, it has to do a lot with the ability for a company to be able to translate their data into meaningful context for the organization, as well as for its customers.

So with that mind, another stat is that 70% of organizations believe that their data is actually not being used to the fullest. And then on the contrary to the last trend, this number constantly is going higher and higher. So more and more companies are realizing that there’s a lot of data at hand, but we don’t really know what we need to do with that data to make it meaningful for our users.

So this idea of data culture is one that is kind of emerging and continuously growing as organizations develop strategies around creating a data culture which is basically an environment for every team member or users or individuals that can essentially be empowered to do really, really great things with their data being at their fingertips. And that’s not a problem anymore. We’ve got so much data, but now we need to build a culture where everyone can benefit.

Everyone in that organization perhaps can ask questions and get answers frequently, as well as they can be effective in the organization. Become innovative, have business insights, have a self-service portal perhaps, have the ability to visualize the data. And instead of just, you know, cleaning and bringing that data together and spending most of their time doing that, instead spend time visualizing and actually analyzing the data that’s there to harness the true power of data that you can effectively use.

So that’s the kind of conversation, I think, is gonna lead to how can we utilize that data through the use of technology to help us get to that goal, to become, you know, a company that can harness the power of data culture in general, and that’s where Power Platform kind of fits in. So Microsoft Power Platform basically entails for, you know, prominent applications one of which we’ll kind of discuss today and others, which we’ve discussed in the past, and we’ll continue to talk about you know, being an organization that is a power addict.

We’ve got Power BI and that’s the application we’re gonna focus on today, and it’s basically the business analytical dashboard capabilities that you have within Power BI that we’re gonna outline. You’ve got power apps, which are, you know, application development components where you can create, you know, canvas apps or model driven apps and be able to effectively work on different processes, create your own custom apps or, or use templated apps to kind of help you get there.

There’s power automate which basically helps to automate some of your processes that may be rudimentary or transactional in nature then you can actually automate them and essentially become more effective or efficient. And in doing that, you can also set up approval processes and other components as such, and you’ve got power virtual agents as well, which was basically, you know, the ability for you to create intelligent chatbots online with minimal or no code at all.

And all of these really reside under the power platform family in general, and can be easily and seamlessly, you know, kind of put together with existing solutions such as Office 365 itself or Azure or Dynamics in general. And we’re gonna talk about that link with Dynamics more so today. And you’ve got the ability for these applications to have a lot of data connectors. And I’ll talk about that from a Power BI perspective today as well, and talk about, you know, the, the overall picture of the common data service or data versus which basically shares the data across these applications seamlessly so you don’t have, you know, you don’t have to go into one application and have certain set of data in another application and those applications don’t actually speak to one another, right? So that would be contrary to the data culture that we’re trying to develop here.

And so for Power BI essentially, you know, allows you to do the following, and this is really is the journey of digital transformation, right, where you can transform your products, right, optimize your operations. And in that sense, empower your employees at the same time, engage your customers, this life cycle and constant evolution of digital transformation in general.

So to summarize at least, you know, at a high level or introduce Power BI, there are, you know, five key components that I’d like to outline today. And we can relate to these in the demo as well as we make notes, but real time dashboard capabilities is a big win for Power BI. Unlike other applications, Power BI has the ability to create these live dashboards, where you can see real time data interact with whether it’s various reports or various visualizations, which I’ll address as well, as far as customized visualizations are concerned.

So you can create visualizations that suit your data that makes sense to you and the data that you have to show the different components that you’d like to show or visualize, or, you know, make apparent for that purpose. You have the ability also to integrate with, you know, other Microsoft family applications as well. And I kind of addressed this in the previous slide as well, but in addition to, or to elaborate more on you know, the ability of Power BI to be embedded within Microsoft Teams, for example, which we’ve used as a communication and collaborative technologies, you know, there’s telephony systems and all these other components that are part of Microsoft Teams itself.

And again, we’ve done lots of webinars and blog articles online regarding all of the applications I’m mentioning today as well as its ability to integrate with your existing CRM or ERP applications, right, such as business central, being an ERP. So that ability for Power BI to do that, you know, without any, you know, custom integration or effort required is very, very unique to Microsoft and Power BI specifically. And the ability for you to access that data and those insights, wherever you are on any device, wherever you go whether it be on a desktop or online on a web browser or mobile devices, you can do that.

And how does that transform your data? So how does Power BI, you know, transform your data essentially in these five stages? So the first really being the ability for you to get your data and access your data. And for you to get your data, there are multiple different connectors and data sources that you can hook up to. A few listed on the screen in the PowerPoint slide here, but essentially that data can be transformed and cleaned to be able to work for the reports or the dashboard visualizations that you’re creating.

And you can connect to any of these data sources, you know, through your system and create, you know, Azure or Power BI data lakes and things like that as well to help support you in terms of this integration of data to your system. So Power BI data sources, here’s a couple lists of Power BI data sources, but literally there are hundreds of built-in data sources that you can leverage to help you migrate your data, and to be able to use. The most common one that we see often is the ability to use Excel in and out as well, use Excel while you are in Power BI to help you and be familiar with, you know, some of the functionality of Excel can also be utilized in Power BI. Very powerful there.

Now that you’ve got your data uploaded and then sourced onto Power BI, you wanna be able to analyze that data, right? So Power BI actually creates a model automatically and can make those linkages and interactions and relationships with the data that is there. And this is done without any, you know, manual effort being involved for you to do that. You can also visualize that data, so to the point of creating visualizations that can interact with, you know, your data itself. So it’s not, I’m not talking about, you know, bar graphs and pie charts only, you know, there are, you know, different types of interactions and different types of visualizations that you can create.

Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to these to essentially allow your data to be meaningful, be easily representative, and share that information across the organization and/or externally as well. And to that, that leads me to the next point of essentially publishing that data or publishing that dashboard to enable you to share the insights that you’ve captured with other people, whether it be internally and or externally.

So there’s multiple different ways that you can share that data or share that dashboard with other people. And you could do that online through a web. You can do that within you know, the licenses, and we can talk about those components specifically, as well as you can, you know, have multiple means of integrating and embedding those reports throughout your Microsoft solutions as well. So lots of power in terms of where that data can be accessed and by whom, and of course, you can set restrictions and security rules and things like that, as well as you need to to empower, you know, the ability for you to do that.

Another example is the sales or report basically where you can create and generate reports through Power BI. And these are reports that are outside of your, let’s say Business Central environment as well, as well as use Power BI to generate essentially better reports if you’re having, you know, issues around reporting in general.

And lastly, of course, we wanna be able to collaborate with these, with these dashboards that are created in Power BI. And this is where that aspect of how do we engage and interact with multiple systems, multiple users coming into the system and connecting with our data to make use of it based on what we have. And of course, in the screen here, I’ve also shown you a mobile application that you can use, and it’s, you know, Power BI application that you can download on any iOS or Android to be able to utilize and empower your employees to get quick insights be able to analyze that data.

And again, here’s a screenshot of, you know, Power BI that’s embedded within a Microsoft Teams channel for you to also see and visualize and utilize its power across the different applications that you already utilize with Microsoft products. So on that side, you know, we can deliver those insights, like I said, through many, many different means, and how does that connect specifically to business central? And I’ll outline maybe a few key areas that, you know, Business Central really has the advantage, and of course, we know Business Central uses Power BI in many relationships, you know, in terms of building the dashboards and the reports and the data that’s coming in and out of your system, but at the same time, there’s ability for you to, you know, some Power BI reports, you can actually embed within Business Central and view them in the system without actually having to leave Business Central, go open up a Power BI application and, and utilize the reports there.

There are obviously more complicated dashboards as well, and you get a very, very good experience with Power BI to be able to generate those and have those even if they are online on websites and things like that as well that you can publish. So Business Central, the capabilities within Business Central also allow you to create predefined Power BI reports or trends or diagrams or any visualizations that can help your organization translate again, discuss that data and to another level. And you also have the ability to make custom reports, right?

So Power BI and Business Central can work together and collaborate in terms of generating custom reports that can be made available to you that maybe, you know, the system does not generate, you know, out of the box for Business Central. Power BI is also used in order to, you know, not only be embedded in Business Central but it can also be, you know, Business Central data that you can push into Power BI and display those reports for you in the system, as well as, so for example, that sales order that that you saw there was actually built on Power BI using data from, you know, Business Central or other ERP system.

So essentially, this mashup, or this connection between Power BI and Business Central is one that can be very, very natural where you don’t even know when, you know, Business Central is actually utilizing Power BI because the interface and the user interface itself is very, very clean and, you know very, very appropriate for the Microsoft Solution. Again, security aspects of things are all present and all of the full solution is still there. And I guess, would that mind, I’m gonna pass it over to Pierre who can actually show you some of the components that I’m talking about here and the natural integration between both Power BI, as well as Dynamics 365 Business Central. So without any delay, Pierre off to you, my friend.

Pierre: Thank you very much for that introduction Ziad. I really appreciate it. And good morning, everyone. As Ziad mentioned, my name is Pierre Manaigre and I’m a technical pre-sales consultant with Encore Business Solutions. And I like beginning all of my demos with this particular tip. If you work with the Microsoft cloud, a lot of you may not be aware, but one of the things I like doing is using the Microsoft edge browser. You can add a home button.

And so what I do is I’ll just minimize this screen a little bit. So we go to the ellipsis here and just click on settings, and then once there just type home, and then what you wanna do is activate this home button and then map to htppsmyapplications.microsoft.com. And so when you do that, what’s going to occur is that, now with this home button, as you’re working with the Microsoft cloud, you can just automatically click it and be routed to this launchpad.

Now, depending on the applications that you have available to you, we’ll determine what items appear in this launchpad. So Power BI is one of the tiles that you’ll see in there. And then as you connect your environment with Business Central, you may need to get your IT department involved if you don’t have a Power BI pro license available. And you’ll know if your environment is connected when you browse to Business Central and you scroll down on this main screen. You’ll see either a Power BI report here, or it’ll be a blank area that isn’t connected yet.

And if you go ahead and try to select a report, it will initiate that connection the first time, and it may produce an error. So if that’s the case, and you have a valid Power BI pro license from your IT department, then what you need to do is go back to this area here, the, my applications area, and just launch Power BI pro after you’ve engaged Business Central. And then what that will do is it will then activate this dashboard here.

Now, you may have to, after doing this closed Business Central and then reopen it, but that is what you’ll see in this environment. And depending on which Power BI reports have been published, you will have access to multiples. I currently only have two reports within this environment, but you will have the ability to add additional reports as you design them, or if you find any Power BI templates on Microsoft GitHub, for example, and or within the Power BI community there’s a community.powerbi.com, which is a very is a great resource for different Power BI information.

And so here’s another example of what’s called a power BI application. So as you create a series of dashboards and reports, etc., as a report designer, you can then create it as an application and then share it with other users. And this will be available to them in their Power BI I’ll just quickly show you in their Power BI launchpad. So here is the Microsoft Dynamics 365 app. I use air quotes and basically this is what you’re seeing here.

So as you share this out to other users, they would have this available in their workspaces, and they’d be able to launch it from there or even use it for mobile devices and so on. And this information is retrieved directly from Business Central, and you can also drill down and see the different costs associated with that. And now you notice that we’re brought right into the system where we can engage with the data. So a very powerful tool that unifies your business intelligence experience. Pardon me, just signed out accidentally. Unifies your business intelligence experience along your ERP system.

And so here, we can also go… Pardon me. We can also get other items as a mini trial balance, for example, that will show some changes within certain categories that are important to you. And again, you can also click and activate data slicers by selecting an area and then deselecting it to remove the filter. These will have a lot more relevance once we dive into the other Power BI reports.

So what I will do is quickly browse here. So this is another Business Central application that’s been published, and this is a sales dashboard and also a sales dashboard with summary. And there’s a number of different visualizations that you see here. There’s bar charts, there’s tree maps, there’s regular physical maps as well. And so if, for example here if I look at Winnipeg Canada, we have the sales available here and that’s demonstrated by the size of the revenue bubble as well. And then when I click that bubble, it’s going to filter out these different views so that you can see what items were responsible for these particular sales activity.

And again, this is all connected through that common data service or the Microsoft data versus has been renamed in November. And so whatever details you have within your Dynamics 365 products, whether they be Business Central customer engagement, etc., you’re able to go ahead and gain access to it from there. And Power BI visualizations also provide additional dimensions. So if we think about a bar chart, which was historically a two dimensional type of display, now we’re getting additional context within color coding. So if you have, for example John Haddock insurance gives you a call and says, Hey, I’d like to buy more chairs, well, you can see here at a glance that his color is red. And so there’s approximately over $85,000 in overdue invoices.

So at a glance, you have an ability to notify the customer that you’d like them to resolve this overdue balance before you go ahead and process their next upcoming order. And the dashboards can also include these cards as well. So you can’t drill down on these, these are for visual purposes. But again, if we click data slicers, it always refreshes the data to show you what is being currently displayed within that filter.

And this feature here is a really good one as well. It’s currently in for you, but you’re able to use it. And this is called Smart Narrative. So if you notice here, it’s giving you a summary of what’s currently being displayed on the report. Now, if you can continue looking at the Smart Narrative, I’m going to activate some data slicers, and you’ll see how this narrative is going to change with the data slicer.

And if I hold down my control key, I can activate additional data slicers. And so here, if I filter on all of the overdue invoices, then it will go ahead and give us what it interprets out of the visuals that are being currently viewed within this report. And you can also these… Pardon me, I need to keep my mouse there. These cue cards that are available here, you can also customize these as well. So if you think as an example, if you have a total sales figure showing, and if we go…actually, I’ll just go here sales by month.

So here, if we have this cue card for sales by month, you have the ability to add additional data points. That makes sense. So if you wanna, for example, show your budget for the current month as well to show if you’re tracking onto the budget, or if you wanna show your year over year growth with that, then you might wanna put last year sales amount in there as an additional bit of information.

So again, it’s all about making it more accessible to the users so that they’re able to drill down to what’s important to them. And this slide here is just to provide a bit of an overview in terms of some of the terminology used for Power BI, but also how you would connect multiple data sources that Ziad had mentioned earlier. And so you could have on-premises data sources, you could have data sources in the cloud such as Business Central, and there could be other items such as a point of sale systems, etc., that you’d want to integrate. And a lot of times these data sources have the different column names and so on.

So you need to do an ETL process, which stands for extract transform and load, but you wanna do this in a very meaningful way. So this is where data architects become necessary, just to make sure that you’re extracting the correct data, as opposed to just grabbing everything as one big lump, and then bringing it up to the cloud, because you wanna make sure that the relationships that you’re making with your data are meaningful, so that there’ll be optimized and able to process those reports in a good way for a user experience.

And so here we have external data sources from on-premises, and they might go to a storage area in the cloud. And then you have potentially a data warehouse it’s called Azure Synapse. In this example that you may use Azure data factory to integrate this data and do that ETL operation that we spoke about. And then here the Azure Active Directory. So if you log into Office 365 in the cloud, then you have a username and password. You may not be aware, but this is Azure Active Directory. And it basically does the security verification to make sure, do you have the ability to access the data to which you are requesting from Power BI? And if so, then it goes ahead and it displays that information to you in the Power BI dashboard.

Now, Microsoft is constantly innovating in their cloud software. They basically deploy two new features every day. They update the code every two weeks. And so they’ve put a lot of thought and effort into Power BI. And this is an Excel spreadsheet that I have as an enclosed data set, and this will demonstrate Power BI visual storytelling capabilities. So this play button down here is what’s called a play access. And my Excel sheet contains data that’s going to run over the course of several years and show the evolution of all the different business intelligence companies throughout these years.

So if we look at Tableau, I can go ahead and click on this, and it will display the entire evolution of that company. And then here I’ll click on Microsoft. And if you’re not familiar with Gartner’s magic quadrant, this is basically showing the company’s ability to execute as well as their completeness of vision. And so if you think about using this play access to demonstrate some of the trends that have occurred in your fingers over time, you can go ahead and just click this and you’ll bring your story to life. And so you can see the evolution of all these different data points that you’re working with and how they interact with each other and how they move over time, back and forth through the different quadrants.

And there’s a number of different ways that you can access Power BI as well and we’ll just quickly go here. So this is the Q&A panel that Ziad had talked about some plain language queries. So here, we have sales by product subcategory. And so here I can… Pardon me. So here I can also look at sales by country and you can also, it’s providing information as well, and in terms of making your queries different and sales by so we’ll go sales by period and city. And so again, it will give you the data in the method it thinks is the most meaningful.

And so here I can say you know, list my locations and it presents the data within a table. And then again, if I wanna see these surfaced on a map, it will go ahead and bring all of that data to me on a map that is available as a visualization. And so here I can click on any item. So if I choose Kiev, Ukraine, then it goes ahead and it filters out again, the data based on that selection, these are dimensional or… Pardon me. This is called a decomposition tree. So if you wanna look at the dimensionality of your businesses as well, you can go ahead and add and remove dimensions. So here, if I go ahead and I want to remove forecast planning and go by subsidiary and period, then it automatically drills that data and automatically refreshes it for me.

And then if I want to add another data value as well, these particular ones have a light bulb icon attached to them. So what you see there is this is from Microsoft’s machine learning capabilities that are built in. So if I wanna see all the low values of these particular items, then I can go ahead and drill into that from the machine learning capabilities of the system. So I don’t have to really create any formulas that will identify the low value, etc. This is all derived from a machine learning.

And you also have the ability to connect to other data sources as well. So if we think about some key performance indicators and different visualizations as well, so this is a closer map by country. So you can also that way you’re not dealing with a global map, you’re specifically dealing with a country map instead, which may be a lot cleaner for your operations. And again, we’re looking at some additional color coding to give you some context within the view that you have. So if we think about the profitability of each individual state, we notice that New York, Texas, and California are quite profitable and Montana is not very profitable at this point. However, when you look at Texas profitability it doesn’t rank very high in the overall sales categories. So you can also click on that slicer and then see what items are being sold by product sub-category, etc.

So there’s a number of different visualizations that may give you additional insights that you might not have had otherwise. And this is another visualization I like showcasing as well, because we’re always interested in engaging with our customers and making sure that they’re satisfied with the services that we provide.

So if you’re familiar with Microsoft Excel, which Power BI mimics, in a lot of ways in terms of the formulas that it uses, and in the context of this particular dashboard, I’m also using conditional formatting with a standard traffic light symbolism behind it. So you basically can set up some conditional formats. So if you look at these particular gauges at the top, as I click on a data slicer and they’ll change color within the context of whether we’ve achieved the goal or not the stated goal at the top.

And so this was very straightforward to do. It’s just basically creating a set of rules for conditional formatting to change those colors depending on those data values. And we know that also customer engagement in surveys can be a little mixed. And so if, for example, you’re a services organization, you may wanna reduce your or increase, pardon me, your customer’s engagement with surveys by reducing, perhaps the number of questions and focusing on a couple of various questions that are important to you.

So, you know, if for example, you have an online business, how easy is it for your customers to purchase items on your website or on a scale of one to 10, how likely would they be to recommend us, or what’s their satisfaction with our pricing model or satisfaction by other product quality, etc. And so what you can do here is by using Microsoft forms, you can create what’s called a streaming dataset so that for example, as the customers activate or respond to the survey, and then go ahead and send that through Microsoft forms, it will stream the data live into Power BI, so that at any given time, you can look at this dashboard and get a sense of how your customers are happy or not happy with your particular services.

And then you can also create a number of different visualizations and incorporate them as well. So again, with bar charts, with tables if, for example, we look at open work orders by or pardon me by duration. We’ll do that first. Again, we have a scatter chart with additional detail. So you have the revenue on this axis, and then you have the average booking minutes on this axis. But what you’re able to see is you can get, for example, how many times did you need to visit or engage with the customer in order to resolve their issue?

So again, you get additional insight into this particular chart based on the size of the bubble. So it’s all about adding additional information to help you understand what’s happening within your organization. And again, if you click on one particular bubble, for example, then we can see the customer itself and how long the inspections had last and how many visits they had, etc. So again, it really depends what data you want to showcase and who you wanna share it with. And the power of this particular product as well is you can share it with anyone within your organization, no matter where they are in the world. So it’s quite powerful. And with that, I will hand it back to Melissa and see if we have any questions.

Melissa: All right. Thank you. Trying to still get my screen back here. Can you see my slide?

Ziad: Yes, we can.

Melissa: Awesome. Thanks. Okay. So if anyone has questions, just put them into the question pane. One did come in just about the recording and yes, we are recording this and that will be sent to everybody. I did put a couple of links in the chat. So the first link is about getting emails from Encore. So if you wanna get our newsletters and our product and service emails, or implode that events and training, then you can sign up there for those. And also just a note in there about Encore Care Unlimited, which is our support plan. So the second link is about that if you wanna learn about the different features that are involved and you can always, of course contact us if you have any questions about any of those things.

So thank you so much, both of you for all that info today. That was great. And I don’t see any questions coming in, but of course, just let us know if you have any, and I guess we can wrap up for today. Thanks, everyone.

Pierre: Take care, everyone.

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